Characters Appearing: Brightwind, Cannonball, Cypher, Magik, Magma, Magneto, Mirage (Dani Moonstar), Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde), Sunspot, Warlock, Wolfsbane
New Mutants #45
Issue(s): New Mutants #45
...the New Mutants students and Kitty Pryde meet a boy named Larry Bodine who is secretly a mutant with a non-combat power (the ability to create artistic light sculptures).
Larry and Kitty get close, but after getting bullied by some kids that threaten to call X-Factor on him (without knowing that he's really a mutant)...
...Larry makes some anti-mutant jokes to try to fit in with the New Mutants (we don't even get to hear the punchlines).
That of course backfires. Rejected by Kitty and not fitting in at school, Larry kills himself.
It's a simple but powerful story that uses the mutant metaphor really well. Frankly, the majority of New Mutants stories should have been more along these lines, showing the Mutants as teenagers struggling with day to day problems. It is somewhat surprising to see Kitty Pryde as a focal character here considering she is not actually a New Mutant, but she is of course a similar age to them.
Kitty is seen wearing glasses for the first time during the eulogy she gives for David.
Wolfsbane is shown to have a vengeful streak. She nearly attacks the people that had been bullying Larry until some of the New Mutants show up to talk her down.
X-Factor's advertising has gotten pretty reactionary.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP places this after Uncanny X-Men annual #10, between Uncanny X-Men #210-211.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
X-Factor never has to pay for-- or even explicitly acknowledges-- Larry Bodine's death.
Posted by: Michael | January 17, 2014 7:35 PM
I know Claremont has Kitty go between books, but I don't think it is good for the title that someone other than title characters gives the big speech at the end.
I doubt the bumper sticker is official X-Factor merchandise. It's most likely copyright infringing rip offs sold by some truck stop gas station.
Posted by: Chris | January 21, 2014 11:03 PM
definitely teared up with this one. Truthfully, a lot of New Mutants as been garbage, but this might be the most affecting story I've read by Claremont. Poor kid.
Posted by: gfsdf gfbd | September 16, 2014 1:19 AM
Incidentally, one wonders why in one of the scans above, Ms. Pryde does not seem to feel self-conscious viz. her implicit defense of homosexuals in one of the scans above. After all, the Biblical Moses seems to have initiated the death penalty for homosexuality. The fact that Ms. Pryde successfully used a Magen David to repel Dracula suggests that she does in fact accept that a historical Moses did give such a commandment.
Posted by: PB210 | December 30, 2014 8:44 PM
PB, can you please keep your speculations away from religion on this site? I know you draw info from all sorts of sources and i enjoy your comments when you pull from the history of pulp fiction and similar things, but whenever you touch on religion it gets uncomfortable. I honestly don't know what you're trying to say here but i don't want to see it discussed further here. It doesn't seem very relevant to the comics and one way or another it seems to veer towards being offensive.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 31, 2014 11:15 AM
I'm very ambivalent on this issue. It's trying too hard to be a "Very Special Episode," but for a franchise with no shortage of attempts, it's definitely one of the more successful ones. I also think it's utterly bizarre that Kitty is the star of the story, when it's not even her series. But it also works. Which resident at Xavier's (or member of the Marvel Universe at large) would have filled her role better? Your Mileage May Vary on the role was needed or the story itself.
This was the first time Claremont specifically acknowledged X-Factor, wasn't it? Louise Simonsen had been writing it for a few issues by this point, and one assumes that between the two of them (and Ann Nocenti, Jim Shooter, etc.) they had worked out peaceful co-existence between the titles. Especially once Walt starts drawing. Who wouldn't like that?
Speaking of the art, I am a big fan of Jackson Guice and Kyle Baker, and especially their work together on these "New Mutants" issues, but I find the art represented on these scans to be horrible. In the first pic, panel 1, someone who vaguely resembles Kitty is just jammed in behind Roberto and his hook-up chick, Illyana (I think that's her) has an enormous butt, Doug looks like a cartoon character in the second panel, and in the third, Dani's thigh and short-shorts [?] are larger than the rest of her body. [Looking at the actual story, it was a short skirt. Oh, that's so much better. If the entire "New Mutants" series wasn't about how Dani wanted to show off her stuff, what was it about?]
Again, I like Guice's art and I like Baker's art and I love it when they teamed up. But not here. The backgrounds are empty, the pacing is awkward, Kitty's "Goodnight Larry" frown would be perfect in Kyle Baker's "Cowboy Wally" or "Why I Hate Saturn" (which, by the way, are two of the greatest comics ever. If you haven't read them, do so now. I'll wait.)
Welcome back. Great comics, weren't they? Anyway, Kitty's portrayal in the later scan doesn't show the girl we know. This is a Very Special Episode. Yay, Kitty.
The pacing should work, but it doesn't. The art should be good, but it isn't. That final scan, panel 1, we're looking at Dani from roughly eye-level. What position does Dani have to be in that we can see her from this angle, and we can read the car's bumper sticker as well?
The basic idea is fine. Persecuted mutants, oppressive X-Factor, teen suicide, that's a story. But the New Mutants don't look that good by immediately cutting Larry off for saying things he didn't know would offend them. They do come off as elite, and considering their destructive power, humans are right to hate and fear them.
Reading the story itself, there's also a gender wars subtext. Bobby has his pick of the girls and takes advantage of it. "I should be so lucky," thinks Kitty while remarking on it. "I wouldn't do that," says Larry, and Kitty thinks "Just my luck." She's already been ditched by her hot roommate after a guy danced with her just to get close to Illyana. Meanwhile Warlock is questioning Doug about his feelings for Kitty ("We were friends. We still are. That's as far as it goes.") Then they save Dani in her short skirt from being bothered by a bully, Sam gets farther with Amara than he ever has or ever will, and this is before Magneto sets up Kitty and Larry in the first place. Never mind mutant existence, human existence is complicated enough.
I'm still ambivalent about this issue, but Claremont was obviously doing a lot of work. Guice and Baker did not live up to that standard. I don't hold X-Factor liable for Larry's death, but I'm glad that a comic book can be so complicated that people can hold the opposite view. This is what you get when you let Kyle Baker create comics.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 2, 2015 9:15 PM
Claremont previously acknowledged X-Factor in X-Men 210, and Kitty made a big speech in that story too.
Posted by: Michael | January 2, 2015 9:45 PM
1: Ok, but "New Mutants" #45 was published contemporaneously with "X-Men" #210, right? #211 was the Mutant Massacre, and NM #46 was the first tie-in from that. Still makes the point, that Claremont has suddenly acknowledged X-Factor (and in both titles at the same time, no less.) I don't know what it means, but it's worth noting.
2: Yeah, there's the racial solidarity thing [and good on Claremont that he included it in the story] but there's also the human factor The art has already been showing nubile teenage girls and Roberto's having fun with them amidst Kitty's jealousy of Illyana, and Dani's discomfort with the whole scene (in her short skirt?) and that's just a small part of the '80s teen movie' going on here.
Look at it from Larry's point of view. He's alienated. He doesn't know anybody. His parents are distant. He's bullied. For the first time in his life, he's actually having fun with a nice girl and as a typical teenager, he might actually have some progress for the first time in his life. Both Larry and Kitty are quite specific about this in their thought balloons. It's the human condition.
Hours (and many glasses of spiked punch) later Kitty still likes him. She still wants to talk to him and dance. For all his teenage angst, he hasn't screwed up, and there's no reason to think he would.
Until he started telling jokes about muties. He's with Kitty, he's with Kitty's friends, if it's not the 'in-crowd,' it's closer than he's ever been in his life. People who accept him for who he is - the joke being that if they knew he was a mutant, they'd have accepted him no matter what kind of asshole he actually was; look who Xavier's School hires as Headmaster! - and then they turn on him in a heartbeat. No if's, and's or buts, he is effectively dead to them, it's his own fault and he'll never be able to fix it.
In the space of six (poorly-paced) panels, he's gone from Kitty smiling at him like a teenage girl having fun, to being shocked (with Rhane), to Sam's gruff dismissal, Illyana walking away and Kitty harshly shooting him down. "I thought you were a nice kid. My mistake."
I still think the art sucks, and I'm still ambivalent about whether this story should have been done, but could there be anything more devastating to a troubled teenage boy than to be so quickly cut-off and shut-out by the ostensible heroes of the book (and Kitty Pryde too)? They didn't even hesitate (and only Rhane went back to check, more for plot reasons than anything else.) Never mind Cyclops or Wolverine, this issue makes it very clear that humans are right to fear people born with werewolf powers will try to murder them. And definitely worry about "homo superior" deciding suddenly that you aren't worthy enough to hang out with them, and won't even tell you why, much less care whether or not you live or die. Sure, they'll save you if the Juggernaut is destroying the city, but only as part of their job description. Reaching out to a fellow human being who unintentionally insulted them? Nah, they're above that.
Writing all this has actually made me appreciate this issue more. I'm still ambivalent about it, but Claremont definitely worked on it, which may be why I think the art suffers. One of the rare times in comics where the writer's job was as important as the artist's.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 2, 2015 10:34 PM
From their point of view, why should they? If he had been making black jokes around Roberto, or Jewish jokes around Kitty, would their reaction had been any different?
Posted by: Michael | January 2, 2015 11:00 PM
"From their point of view." Exactly. If the mutant/minority metaphor means anything, Roberto and Kitty are going to be much more protective of their fellow mutants than skin color or religion. No matter, they didn't consider anyone else's point of view, like Larry's. Sucks to be Larry. Oh well, he's dead so he doesn't count. Because mutants just want equality. As long as you don't make jokes about it.
As for Rhane, humans should genuinely be afraid that a werewolf will try to kill them, especially if werewolves really exist. Do they know why the werewolf is trying to kill them? "Um, I may have made some comments at a high school dance, but I don't have any proof." The werewolf in question was very willing to kill them. And she clearly exists. Why does the concept of werewolves exist? Because humans are afraid of creatures that try to kill them. What is Rhane the werewolf eager to do? Kill human beings.
At least the guy with the sunglasses makes a consistent attempt to keep wearing his sunglasses so he doesn't destroy everything. What does someone who doesn't want to get killed by a werewolf have to do to keep the werewolf away? Not make inappropriate jokes when you don't know exactly how people will respond to those jokes? You never know when a mutie is listening in?
Posted by: ChrisW | January 2, 2015 11:18 PM
Just adding, I've always seen this issue as a plus mark in Claremont's mutant titles, just because Kitty was the star. By all rights, she shouldn't even be here, except as a cameo appearance. Roberto and Illyana barely appeared, f'r cryin'...
It's only a smidgen further than Kitty being an important part of the early New Mutants story where she and Doug Ramsey were taken captive by the Hellfire Club and the X-Babies had to rescue them. Or the later storyline where the X-Men were taken captive by Mojo and the X-Babies had to put on their graduation costumes and rescue them. When it worked - and this issue worked - it was a perfect example of how a franchise should operate. Colossus, Rogue or Nightcrawler could appear in "New Mutants," the kids could appear in "X-Men" and it worked. One of my favorite moments in the entire franchise appears in one of my least favorite comics (the Bill Sienkiewicz issues) as Xavier calms (? Roberto? Rhane?) by telling how he discovered his mutant power, suddenly reading his step-brother's mind, and that act was discovered, causing a rift, which the Juggernaut has never forgotten or forgiven.
I don't like "New Mutants" #45 because it's such an obvious Very Special Story, but the amount of work Claremont put into it makes it very special indeed.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 4, 2015 2:01 AM
Man, Kyle Baker is just obliterating those pencils, isn't he? That's some pretty heavy-handed inking, right there.
Posted by: JP | May 29, 2015 6:19 PM
One of my favorite comics of all-time and one of the very few I actually kept. Kitty is the perfect character to make the speech at the end, and it's her ability to make such a speech why she became president (in one future) and why Emma brought her in during Astonishing.
This is really where the African-American metaphor seems to move more into the gay metaphor - if you make a racist joke, it's easy to know if you're making it to someone of a different race. Religious joke is harder. But I read Larry's attempt at the joke like someone making a homophobic joke - much harder to know who you're making it to. And the suicide works well along that metaphor - trying to hide who you are, getting accidentally rejected by those who are like you, killing yourself, tragically, because you believe you are alone. It just makes it all the more tragic to read.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 4, 2015 10:37 AM
I'd argue that mutants work best when they are not confined to representing any one real world minority: rather, they can function as 'everyman minorities' in one sense, while also mirroring one minority or another for a specific character or storyline. For instance, 1980s Genosha is clearly an analogue for apartheid South Africa, and the mutants there clearly function as surrogate black South Africans, with added superpowers, admittedly. The Holocaust is linked thematically and literally, via Magneto having survived it and this informing his extreme approach. And, yes, in this issue of New Mutants especially, but elsewhere also, there's a strong thematic link to gay people, and I am sure this one comic strongly affected a number of young people growing up who were either gay and were keeping that as their own 'guilty secret' or else kids who had picked on someone for being gay (or a nerd, or whatever) and were stung by Kitty's speech at the end.
Posted by: Harry | July 4, 2015 12:08 PM
I agree with Erick's post. The kids really did not need to explain their anger, since it was clear they did not like the anti-mutant jokes. Had Larry reacted quicker (and with a lot of courage), he might have realized these guys may be good ones to reveal his secret to. But he is really afraid not only of the bullying and the hate, but also of being murdered just because he is a mutant.
About that sticker, it *might* be official X-Factor publicity. Remember Cameron Hodge did things behind the team's backs. He sold them the plan, but he then used it to cause real damage. While they suspected nothing.
Posted by: Cesar Hernandez-Meraz | September 17, 2016 1:46 AM
By the way, I mistakenly clicked the wrong button when I posted that.
What does the "Sturky" button do?
Posted by: Cesar Hernandez-Meraz | September 17, 2016 1:47 AM
Comments are now closed.
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